Here at Nova STEMversity, all we do is think about STEM. And climate change is one of the hot (or cold, depending on the season) topics on many tongues and minds lately. Last month, we saw some of the hottest recorded temperatures in the United Kingdom, Canada, and several states in the US. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the temperature broke at least ten records in the last week of the month. The winter, especially in Canada, is expected to be even colder than usual. So what can we do to prepare for the increasing unpredictability that the changing climate is bringing from season to season?
But first, let's reflect on how we got here. Leaving one light on after leaving the room or plugging a cell phone in to charge overnight didn't cause climate change. Motor vehicles, factories, power plants and other things that produce carbon dioxide en masse are the reason for the increased heat in our atmosphere. When carbon dioxide gets caught in the atmosphere and catches the heat from the sun (rather than releasing it back into space), it makes the Earth a bit warmer than usual. And with more cars hitting the road and factories going up everyday, it seems things aren't on the best path forward.
And the path won't lead anywhere good. With the temperatures increasing at the current pace, we could see many animals becoming extinct due to their habitats no longer being tenable. The remaining animals may have to seek alternative food sources to make up for previous sources that have disappeared. In addition, we can see more wildfires and flooding due to melting ice sheets and glaciers. We will see more heatwaves, more droughts, and more extreme weather.
Nothing is set in stone, though. On it's list of 17 goals, the UN has prioritized Climate Action at number 13 since 2019. In 2016, former President Obama signed the Paris Agreement, which is an initiative designed to encourage each country to develop a plan to combat climate change. Current President Biden formed the National Climate Task Force with goals of "Reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030, reaching 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, [and] delivering 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities."
But, as individuals, we can help as well. Wherever possible, biking or walking instead of traveling by car would reduce the carbon dioxide output in the atmosphere. Planting trees can also clear the air, ridding it of airborne toxins. Diets with less meat can reduce the amount of livestock necessary to stock grocery store shelves and reduce the amount of methane in the air. Utilizing fewer appliances for washing clothes, washing dishes, and other household duties would require less electricity and cause less impact on the environment. Overall, giving to causes that prioritize a cleaner, healthier planet like the Clean Air Task Force and the Rainforest Foundation US can advance their mission and improve life for us all.
The fact is, climate change is upon us. There's nothing we can do to stop it, at this point. But there is plenty that we can do to minimize the effects. Continuing to do nothing will only bring about the worst of some truly catastrophic outcomes. Fortunately, there are many measures that governments are taking as well as charitable organizations are taking to mitigate the damage. And there are many things that we as individuals can do to help protect our planet. Small changes can make a huge impact. We've got to leave our Earth better than we found it!
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